Supply chain issues have caused a tampon shortage: where to buy them—and alternative options

Tampons are in short supply right now—find out where you can find them, and other feminine hygiene alternatives worth checking out.

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Following the baby formula shortage that left parents scrambling to find food for their infants, supply chain issues have caused another nationwide shortage: tampons. Consumers have taken to social media to report sparse shelves in stores and price gouging on sanitary products online, while the shortage is showing no signs of resolving in the coming weeks, as stock issues are expected to continue due to high demand.

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Why is there a tampon shortage?

According to reports, tampon inventory around the country has dipped by as low as 60%, while inflation has caused a price uptick by up to 10% in the last year. 

Both Walgreens and CVS have reported "temporary brand-specific shortages," while retailers like Target and Walmart have said in statements that they're working with suppliers to secure more inventory.

Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble, the manufacturer of Tampax products—which controls roughly 60% of the U.S. tampon market—said in a statement, “the Tampax team is producing tampons 24/7 to meet the increased demand.”

Other factors contributing to the shortage are rising costs and demand of raw materials, primarily the price of cotton, which has climbed by 41% year over year. Additionally, fuel prices and lack of workforce due to COVID-19 have taken their toll on manufacturing and delivery.

It's also important to note that since tampons are regulated as a medical device by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), manufacturers must pass a number of safety tests for composition, absorbency and risk assessments to be cleared by the FDA.

What other menstrual care products can you use?

Menstrual cups and period underwear are two sustainable options that can offer more coverage than tampons.

If you're struggling to find tampons at your local pharmacy or supermarket, there are plenty of feminine hygiene alternatives on the market. The best menstrual cups and the best period underwear are dependable options that offer up to 12 hours of leak protection, reduce waste and save you money over time. Menstrual cups usually cost between $20 to $40 and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and can last for up to 10 years.

Period underwear also usually runs between $20 and $40 and is outfitted with a built-in absorptive layer that can provide between 1 to 5 tampons' worth of absorbency, depending on the style.

Where to buy tampons online

Where to buy menstrual cups online

Where to buy period underwear online

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.